Fermer: Definition & Conjugation

Instructor: Susan Binkley

Susan has taught college-level French and has a PhD in French studies.

The verb 'fermer' means 'to close' in English. This lesson will show you how to use this verb. We'll look at a common situation where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and read a few sentences containing the verb.

Using the Verb Fermer

Oh no, you have to hurry! You and your roommate Sandrine are having a small party tonight, but it's getting late and many stores are closing. You have so much to buy still. You run into a grocery store and ask if they're closing soon:

'Vous fermez (pronounced: voo fair may) bientôt?' you ask the clerk.

'Oui, nous fermons (pronounced: noo fair mohn) bientôt. Dans 15 minutes,' he replies. ('Yes, we're closing soon. In 15 minutes.')

You manage to find some of the food you need, then you remind Sandrine that you need to buy some baguettes from the baker.

'Il ferme (pronounced: eel fairm) à quelle heure?' ('He closes at what time?')

Sandrine tells you that the bakery closes in 5 minutes:

'La boulangerie ferme (pronounced: fairm) dans 5 minutes!'

You get there in time and buy your baguettes right before the baker puts a sign on the door saying Fermée (pronounced: fair may), which means 'closed.'

Fermer means to close. Fermee means closed.

Did you notice the forms of fermer (pronounced: fair may) that are used? Fermer is the infinitive form of the verb, which means it is the basic form. When we use it with a pronoun such as nous to say 'we are closing,' we use the appropriate form, or conjugation: nous fermons.

Forms of Fermer

Now that we know a little more about fermer, let's look at this conjugation chart for fermer to learn the verb conjugation in the present tense for all the forms:

Subject Pronoun Fermer Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je ferme (zhuh fairm) I close, I am closing
tu tu fermes (too fairm) you close, you are closing
il/elle/on il/elle/on ferme (eel/el/ohn fairm) he/she closes, he/she is closing
nous nous fermons (noo fair mohn) we close, we are closing
vous vous fermez (voo fair may) you close, you are closing
ils/elles ils/elles ferment (eel/el fairm) they close, they are closing

The conjugation of fermer is the same as other verbs that follow the pattern for -er verbs. And so, we call this a regular -er verb.

Other Examples of Fermer

Now, let's get back to shopping and see what else we can do before the stores close.

You want to put some flowers on your table, and you come across a florist who looks like she's starting to close up:

'Vous fermez?' you ask her. ('Are you closing?')

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